Tropical Animal Health and Production

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 307–320 | Cite as

Analysis of production objectives and breeding practices of dairy goats in Kenya

  • R. C. Bett
  • I. S. Kosgey
  • A. K. KahiEmail author
  • K. J. Peters
Original Paper


Production objectives and breeding practices of smallholder households participating in dairy goat breeding projects were analysed in relation to their ability to bring about sustainable genetic improvement in the dairy goat flocks in Kenya. A stratified survey involving 311 goat keepers in 4 project sites was used. This employed both qualitative and quantitative research methods to get a holistic view of dairy goats, and take into account the full array of contributions of dairy goats to the smallholder households. Milk production and sales of breeding stock were high priority functions for the objective to create a financial buffer. The breeding objective traits that farmers perceived as being of primary importance were milk yield, growth rate, body size, fertility and disease tolerance. There were logical trade-offs in the choice of these traits by farmers. Female dairy goats were mainly culled due to old age, poor fertility, small body size and poor health. Farmers did not place a large significance on unsatisfactory milk performance when culling female goats, mainly due to the very small production size and the high demand existing for breeding animals. Factors affecting milk yield and flock size presented satisfied a P < 0.1 significance level. The performance levels of dairy goats were mainly influenced by breeding strategies and the resource availability at the farm level. The optimisation of genotype x environment interactions remains the biggest challenge given the objectives set by the farmer.


Production objectives Breeding practices Management strategies Smallholder farmers Dairy goats 



Dairy Goat Association of Kenya


Higher Education Links-Egerton University Community Dairy Goats Project


Heifer Project International



The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is thanked for granting the first author the financial assistance to carry out this study. We also greatly acknowledge Humboldt University of Berlin and Egerton University for provision of facilities. Thanks to the Dairy Goat Association of Kenya, Heifer Project International and Higher Education Links-Egerton University Community Dairy Goats Project for their cooperation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. C. Bett
    • 1
  • I. S. Kosgey
    • 2
  • A. K. Kahi
    • 2
    Email author
  • K. J. Peters
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal Breeding in the Tropics and Sub-TropicsHumboldt University of BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Animal Breeding and Genetics Group, Department of Animal SciencesEgerton UniversityEgertonKenya

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